What Did Jesus Write?

Pastor Tony Murphy speaks from John’s gospel. What did Jesus write?


1 but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. 2 At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. 3 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4 and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” 6 They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him. But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. 7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. 9 At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 11 “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

John 8:1-11 The Bible

Yeah, Thank You Susan, Yeah Lord Jesus, just thank you for this word to us this morning and I pray that as we as we think about it, as we dwell on it, that you’ll speak into our hearts, speak into our lives and that we’ll know that freedom from sin that you bring, in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Praise God! And this is what it’s about, this is what excites me about this reading and you see we don’t just pluck readings out of thin air we’re on a course of readings throughout the year. You know that I post them on Facebook and I text them to people who want them, if you want to text me, with the daily reading, that’s fine.

Today’s daily reading is actually from John chapter 8 the first 11 verses. This is today’s reading and what that does is it gives us a balanced diet of what God is saying to us. It’s not like Tony’s favorite subjects all the time or someone else’s favorite subjects. This is the whole picture of what God’s saying to us and this is quite a difficult passage, but as I’ve looked at it, it’s gone from a difficult passage to something amazing, because the key thing here is that we know we’re going to celebrate in communion that Jesus forgives our sins. And yeah hopefully we’re confident in that, but here’s the great thing it’s the next step, it’s not a case of he forgives, just forgives us our sins, but he wants us to be free from the guilt that sin can have in our lives. That’s wonderful isn’t it? When we’re not just forgiven by God, but we can walk in freedom. Walking in freedom, it’s absolutely golden and that’s what he wants to bring in to our lives and that’s what today is about and it’s an incredible picture.

It’s the Pharisees, those, those Pharisees that they’re always the pantomime characters aren’t they. It’s like yeah, It’s that and then the Pharisees said “Hissssss”, you, you know the more I read about that, they were just trying to uphold what they genuinely thought was right. Okay they were mistaken but they were pretty genuine and what they felt and that the fear that they were wrapped up in, about things, they needed setting free by Jesus, but you know that they questioned him and they challenged him and Jesus always rose to their challenges. That’s what we’re going to be looking at today in actual fact. If we look at that slide there, I’ve called today’s sermon, six things Jesus may have written on the ground, because in that sermon, oh sorry, in that reading it says that the Pharisees came to Jesus and they asked in this, and before he answered, he started writing on the round, apparently, it’s, it’s mainly sandy ground so he gets his finger and he writes and they’ve asked him a question he’s just writing in the ground.

Now that’s an interesting thing and I thought, I wonder what he wrote. You know, do you ever read your Bibles and kind of ask this sort question, what was he writing then why is he writing? So, number one I looked at my study Bible and it just says it is unclear what Jesus may have written on the ground. Well thank you, study Bibles, all that money I paid.

So I took it, I took it to two more places. I took it to Google and I took it to the dinner table and these are some of the answers that I got which was quite interesting and this one came from Sally. Sally said that at school she does anger management with the children and what she gets them to do is if they’re angry with a teacher, especially just so they don’t say you stupid teacher, I hate you, just write down the first letter of each word that you’re thinking, Y.S.T.I.H.Y. So maybe, Jesus was writing, stupid Pharisee, I don’t! So that that’s one thing perhaps. Here’s another one, Jesus starts writing on the ground, thinking, ha, John’s recording this and they’re gonna be reading it for thousands of years after and there’ll always be wondering, so I’m just going to do it. That I can’t member who suggested that one, then I think that came from Google. Um, I’ll bet they’ll wonder forever.

This one was on Google as well, somebody gen… this is a theologian who said that he might just been writing the names of the prostitutes in the ground that the Pharisees have been with, that’s naughty, that’ why they gradually walked away. In other words all the sins. That they brought this woman there to test Jesus, but actually all have sinned.

And this is where it was good at the dinner table. I shared this at the dinner table and Jodie just goes burn, that’s teenager, yep there’s a good burn there. What else have we got? This was on Google, they said he may have been playing for time, well, but Jesus probably didn’t need to play for time, that would have been me. Someone asked me difficult questions just finds some sand and start writing in it, thinking, well I don’t know, just let me think of an answer.

Another one, this is from Jodie, he might just wanted to draw a nice picture and this is for Martin as well, you’ll like this hopefully. This was on Google, this person said he might be writing in Sanskrit, Sanskrit, (groan) anyway that’s six. So Jesus wrote something. We aren’t gonna look at six things he could have written and some he may have written. He may not, he probably didn’t, but it’s like the heart behind what he was writing, the heart behind what he was saying and that’s what we need to look at.

This morning I’m gonna look at six areas, six things he could have written or and certainly six things behind what he said. It’s all about being free, it’s all about… the whole chapter’s about being free from the grip that sin can have in our lives. I used to go out uptown Ryde a long time ago with Tony Anderson, he’s away at a wedding this weekend, so happy days, but we’ve got there and we used to do open-air preaching and a guy with us used to preach open air and write to a sketch he used to have. He’d say, ‘this little word sin’, because this is a magic word, it makes people disappear, because as soon as I start talking about sin everyone disappeared.

Oh no, an actual fact, Jesus talked about sin again and again and again and again and again. He talked about Hell again and again and again. He talked about unpopular stuff and this is why we have a wide range of readings that we look at, because if it’s down to me, I just, yeah, I’ll just keep preaching the popular stuff, you know. Jesus didn’t, he talked about the unpopular stuff that’s one of the reasons why he got crucified, he was not always popular in what he said and he talked a lot about sin and the reason he talked about a lot about sin, it’s because it’s part of the human condition. He came to deal with, he came to die on the cross to to set us free from it and he wants us to walk in freedom from it. So that’s why I talked a lot about it so, so let’s look at some of these things.

Six things he may have written. Going into the sand first of all, the first one is do not judge. Do not judge, it’s clear though isn’t it, the Pharisees brought this this woman caught in adultery and they say in judging this woman’s caught in sin we should stone her to death. Well first of all if they’d have read the law properly even they’ll called it the Old Testament law and that it’s not just as simple as that. In actual fact it takes two people, so it should have been both of them the man and the woman and they’re there as well and then there’s a lot of procedures it’s not just like, oh yeah, I’ll catch someone and then stone them to death so they were trying to trap Jesus.

Here’s the thing and we’re called not to, not to judge people. The main reason for that, Pharisees, because he may have been writing their names and what they’ve done wrong, you know, the prostitutes that they they’ve been with, like I can say, but it says in 1 John 1 8 and 9 it says this “if we claim to be without sin we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us”. That’s strong words isn’t it, it’s like, let’s forget about judging anybody else, because, leave judgment to God, because he’s the one without sin. If we start casting judgment on people because some sins are easier to judge than others, but it’s like, we’ve all sinned, we’ve all fallen short of the glory of God, we’re not in a position to judge others. So do not judge, do not judge.

The next part of this is even better, as soon as we realize that we have sinned, it says if we confess our sins, he, God is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

You see God doesn’t just forgive our sins, that’s what we’re talking about here, he wants to set us free, he actually wants to purify us from all unrighteousness. As soon as we realize we’ve sinned, here’s the thing to do. “God I’m sorry I’ve sinned, I’m sorry” and as we do that, look at the dynamic thing that happens, he doesn’t just say you’re forgiven, that would be good, he starts to purify, so it’s like having a wash on the inside. As soon as God shows us that we’ve sinned, it’s just, yeah, God won’t come and forgive me, come purify me. As he purifies us on the inside, he sets us free. That’s the wonderful thing. That’s the thing about being set free from sin.

The next thing, the second thing he might have written in the sand is is it’s not about condemnation, it’s about conviction. It’s easy to feel condemned, isn’t it? You know I could preach a message today and you could feel condemned and that wouldn’t be very sensible, because you wouldn’t come back, you don’t come to church to be condemned. The Bible says there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus. He took that condemnation on the cross. What there is for those in Christ Jesus isn’t condemnation, it’s another ‘c’ word conviction.

Conviction. God’s Holy Spirit will convict us when we’re not going the right way. Now that’s a good thing. That’s a good thing, because if our kids aren’t going the right way, we’re going to put our arm around them aren’t we and just gently bring them in the right direction. That’s what conviction is. God doesn’t want us to feel bad, he just wants us to feel actually loved and guided and led by him.

When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment

John 16:8 The Bible

John 16 verse 8 does just say that Holy Spirit convicts us of sin, that’s one of the jobs of the Holy Spirit, to convict us of sin and also John 3:17 ,Jesus says for God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world but to save the world through him. So again he doesn’t condemn us he saves us, he convicts us of sin. One time. I’ll give you an example of conviction, when I was school teaching, sometimes schoolteachers get cross. I told a child off, okay, but I told them off too much probably, you know, a whole day of lessons and then someone does something little and they get an exaggerated telling off. They get the telling off for all the hundred children you’ve seen previously in the day they get a hundreds worth of telling off.

Because I’ve got a relationship with God, it’s just a little bit of conviction comes at that point, afterwards, “Tony you were harsh on that child, you gave that child a hundred percent more telling off than they needed, poor child” and the conviction is this, “yeah, I did didn’t I”. That’s conviction, what am I going to do? that’s conviction. How am I gonna put that right? that’s conviction. So the next day I found the child when they came back to my lesson I said, “I need a word” and they go “oh no, no, whoa, no, I don’t want a word with you, I didn’t like yesterday’s word” and I said I want to tell you I said, I said “your behavior wasn’t great”, I said, “but I want to apologize for the way I told you off”. You see that that’s conviction, it’s just bringing us into a place where we’re convicted that we ain’t perfect and that God wants to bring us into line with, what would Jesus do? What would Jesus do? And that’s the thing isn’t it? What would Jesus do? That’s conviction.

The third thing is, that sin it’s always a choice, again we can see, we could, yeah, sometimes, “oh I couldn’t help it, I just couldn’t help it” and actually we can always help it and that’s if God’s convicting us of what’s right and what’s wrong, then go with his conviction because, actually he’s about setting us free. If we’re not going to go with it, then we’re choosing not to go, then it’s the choice, but it’s not a good choice and we’ll come on to why it’s it’s not a good choice as well. The fourth thing I thought about, is the lady got caught. This lady got caught, um, that sin isn’t just about getting caught, it’s just good if you don’t get caught, then it’s still sin and most sins go on unknown. In fact a lot of the sin that goes on in my life is going on in my head, same with you guys and I can prove that, because we have the technology to plug your head with just a couple of little leads, plug your head into that computer and it will project your thoughts on the screen, who wants to go first? Anyone? No, no, me neither. Sin isn’t about getting court, it’s about, actually this is where it starts, it starts in here, it starts in our thinking. Here’s what the Bible says in Romans 12, we can put that up hopefully and it says “therefore I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy to offer your bodies, offer your lives as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, this is your true and proper worship.” He says do not conform, don’t conform to the patterns of the sin of this world, but be transformed. How? By the renewing of your mind. Jesus does that, he renews our mind, he renews our thinking and that’s what God does in our life, that’s part of his setting us free and what we’ve been set free from.

Well if we just look at the last bit here. John chap… and this is from this same chapter. Jesus talked a lot about theology there, but He ends the chapter by, with this conversation, the Jews who had believed, to the Jews who have believed, in verse 31, Jesus said “if you hold to my teaching you are really my disciples, you will know the truth and the truth will set you free” they answered we are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anybody”. So they’re saying “do we need setting free, how can you say we’ll be set free? Jesus replied, “very truly I tell you anyone, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.” That’s a big statement. So whatever sin we might be thinking here or doing, we’re slave to sin. Again I looked that up on Google. What does slavery mean me? “Google, what does slavery mean?” It come up with a quite a scary definition of slavery. Slavery is when you a slave are the legal property of another and forced to obey. You know, if we’re in slavery to sin, with it, we not almost, like, become the legal property of it. Only Jesus can set us free from that, because if you become the legal property of someone then that’s kind of significant. If you’re a slave to sin, we don’t want to be the legal property of sin, we want to be set free from that, not just forgiven, but set free. Jesus says “now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever, so if the son sets you free you will be free indeed”. Jesus wants to set us free, the truth of Jesus sets us free, Jesus sets us free from sin and that’s good news.

So really those are six things that Jesus could have written in the sand. It’s all about, let’s not judge, let’s let God do the convicting in our lives, that’s not feel condemnation. Let’s not make the wrong choices, let’s choose to follow Jesus, let’s choose not to sin. If we’re not getting caught it’s still sin and let’s realize that when we do sin, when we do do fall short of the glory of God, that the beginning of slavery, let’s not be enslaved, but let’s walk in freedom and that’s what Jesus wants us to do.

What I’m going to do now during this time of communion is to just give us a chance to quietly reflect, so when we take communion we remember that Jesus died on the cross for our sin. He took our sin, nailed to the cross, taking it away and that’s the good news. Our sin has been taken away and now in order to be, to know that it’s taken away, it’s like, we can walk free from it, it’s not, just hey, I’m forgiven, but I can walk free. It’s possible that your sins been taken away in God’s eyes, but we’re still enslaved by it today.

As we take communion let’s acknowledge that Jesus has taken away our sin and let’s pray that we’ll be free, we’ll know what it means to walk in freedom and just spend a bit of time as we take the bread and the wine. Just quietly come before God. Just individually, us and him, give us an opportunity to confess things that we know aren’t right in our lives, because as we confess them to Him, we’ll know freedom. As we confess, we don’t need to tell anybody else. So we confess them to him, we’ll know freedom, we’ll know him purify us, we’ll know cleansing our lives, praise God!


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